Meghalaya became the 21 st state of the Indian Republic on 21 st January 1972. It is one of the seven sister states located in the North East region of India. The name ‘Meghalaya’ is a Sanskrit word which literally means the abode of clouds. It is a hilly state that can be categorized into three different parts- West Meghalaya Garo Hills, central Meghalaya Khasi Hills, and Eastern Meghalaya Jaintia Hills. Meghalaya is bounded by Assam on the north and Bangladesh on the south and west. Meghalaya is a very beautiful state which attracts lots of tourists every year. People here are very concerned about their environment and surrounding. They have been successful enough for preserving their environment and ecology really well by practicing the unique cultures and traditions over the ages. Living root bridges, crystal clear lakes, lush green forests, and humungous caves are some of the reasons among many for which tourists could not resist themselves by visiting this amazing place on the earth-Meghalaya. All these facts also tempted me too, and I packed my bag and visited this beautiful place for experiencing the deep bond between people and the nature of Meghalaya. Meghalaya is easily accessible to the Guwahati as it is in very close proximity to the Guwahati Airport and affordable flight fares to Guwahati from all parts of India made it a happening weekend destination too. It is possible to take up a long weekend Meghalaya tour of 4-5 days by flying to and from Guwahati airport. So, I also started my journey in the hope of exploring some new places, meeting some new people, and most of all learning something new about life from Meghalaya. I started my Meghalaya tour by taking up an early flight from Delhi Airport to Guwahati airport. The Gopinath Bordoloi airport in Guwahati is located on the NH-40, and once you exit from the airport, a right turn on the main road will take you to Shillong whereas turning left will lead you to Guwahati city. You can hire a taxi or also can try hitch-hiking for reaching Shillong. Private and shared cabs are easily available outside the airport Look for ML numbered-yellow number plates car and SUVs or you can also take up MTC bus services to Shillong Police Bazaar. The total distance between Guwahati Airport and Shillong is around 120 km. Also, unlike many other states in the North East, Indian tourists don’t require a permit to visit Meghalaya. The road journey from Guwahati to Shillong can be cover in just 3 hours as the road between these destinations is extremely excellent. On the way to Shillong, all shared taxis usually make a halt for snacks and food after entering the state border of Meghalaya at Nongpoh. During your stop in Nongpoh, you can try some fresh delicious pineapples and variety of pickles that can be picked up at the time of return journey. Now, when you will again start your journey after this small halt you will reach Shillong- the Scotland of the East and also known as the rock capital of India. The taxi will drop you at Police Bazaar, now from here either you can hire a local taxi or walk on your feet to reach anywhere in Shillong. Staying in Shillong is a costly affair in itself as the place is crammed with tourists all throughout the year. Although you can find some cheap and best deals of staying near the Police bazaar itself. I found my own stay and got into it for unwinding myself. It was evening now, and I decide to take a stroll around the nearby market. While moving around the city I encountered with few eateries where authentic Khasi food was being served and had my dinner from one among them. Places to visit in Shillong- The next day, I gorged onto the delicious breakfast served by the hotel and afterward decided to take a tour of the popular attraction in Shillong. I visited places like Ward’s Lake, Shillong Golf Course, Elephant Falls, Smit, Don Bosco Museum of Indigenous Cultures, archery at Siat Khnam, Mawphlang sacred forests. Etc. One can also visit the Umiam Lake Barapani which is a very beautiful lake with crystal clear water and clouds floating by, located at a distance of 15 km. A visit to the wettest place on planet earth- Cherrapunji This was the second day of mine in Meghalaya which was planned to visit Cherrapunji also called Sohra which is known to be the wettest place on earth, The distance of Cherrapunji from Shillong is hardly 55 km and can be traveled in just 2 hours with the help of shared taxis and local buses plying all day from Bada Bazaar at the charges of 70INR and 0 INR respectively. Bada Bazaar is the main market to buy all sorts of fresh vegetables and fruits in Shillong. Buses and taxis will drop passengers to the main market near the Sumo taxi stand in upper Cherrapunjee. One can find the popular hostels for backpackers and other cheap options like dormitory option for budget travelers. Popular attractions to visit in Cherrapunjee- I visited almost all the attractions in the Cherrapunjee. I started with the Dympep viewpoint that has fabulous landscapes of the canyons. Then I visited Rama Krishna Mission Ashram famous for its Tribal Khasi Museum. Next, the place was Nohkalikhai waterfalls which are the 4th highest in the world. Mawsmai caves is also a must-visit place in Cherrapunjee. Apart from these, if time allows also visit places as Dainthlen falls, Khasi Monoliths and 1846 built First Presbyterian Church before ending your day. I stayed overnight in Cherrapunjee as I had to go to Living Root Bridges on the third day of my Meghalaya Tour. A visit to Living Root Bridges of Nongriat- I stayed at the dormitory in Cherrapunji on the 2 nd night of my Meghalaya Tour as I had to explore and take up the most fascinating activity- the trek to the ‘double-decker root bridge’ of Nongriat village on the third day. There are two routes for the Nongriat village, the first one is easier that goes from Tyrna village which involves a descent of 3000 steps while the other is from the viewpoint of Nohkalikai waterfalls. After the trek, I reached the living root bridges which I have seen in pictures only before today. Living Root Bridges are bridges constructed by the villagers from the living tree roots using indigenous methods. Tyrna is around 26 km away from Cherrapunjee and hence it is advisable to stay for at least one day in Nongriat to allow the knees to rest. As I woke up on the fourth day in Nongriat I thought I woke up late that day, but later I realized that it is only 5 am in the morning. And this confusion aroused because here in North East the sun rises a little early than in plains. I started my journey back to Tyrna village after having breakfast at Nongriat. I hitched a ride with a vehicle from Tyrna which was going to Cherrapunji. It was my fourth day and day was scheduled to visit the Dawki River. You must have seen rustic boats floating on crystal clear water in photographs of Meghalaya on the internet- this is the same Dawki River. One can directly go to the Dawki river from Cherrapunjee without visiting Shillong. As I reached Dawki I was amazed by the crystal clear water of the river. It was so clear, even stones lying on the surface of the river can be seen clearly. Apart from the beauty of the river, the place was filled with various adventurous activities such as scuba diving, cliff jumping, fishing, snorkeling, rafting, etc. After enjoying at Dawki River I made my way to Asia’s cleanest village- Mawlynnong. The village was so beautiful and everybody was very conscious about the cleanliness of the village. I enjoyed the lunch with the villagers and the hospitality that I received from the villagers was something that we all should learn from the people of Mawlynnong. I didn’t want to come back from such a beautiful place, but I had to return back to Shillong till evening. As I had to finish my Meghalaya Journey the next day. I reached Shillong in the evening of the fourth day of my Meghalaya Odyssey and stayed overnight at Hotel Knight Inn. It was the fifth day when I was returning from Meghalaya. I took the shared cab for Guwahati Airport from the taxi stand at Police Bazaar. I was recalling all the destinations and memories that I lived here in Meghalaya while sitting in the cab moving towards the Guwahati Airport. Meghalaya is literally a place where people are so concern about their nature and in return nature also gives its fruit to the people there who are constantly preserving the lakes, forests, caves, waterfalls, and beautiful environment of this amazing hilly state.
1. Tips for the tourists visiting Meghalaya
Those who are planning their visit to Meghalaya- the state with clouds all throughout the year must consider following tips before starting their exciting journey of the North East state in India.
- Must carry a mosquito repellent, as you are going to encounter many mosquitos for sure while visiting Cherrapunjee and Living Root Bridges.
- Don’t forget to carry an umbrella, raincoat, and waterproof bag as you can face rain anytime during your tour.
- Don’t be surprise to see women dominating all the sphere of life be it business, jobs, and household affairs. Meghalaya is just like other North-East states practicing a matrilineal system.
- When in Meghalaya, respect the culture and landscapes of Meghalaya as the people here are very vigilant about the environment.